Background: All lentiviruses except equine infectious anemia virus (EIVA) antagonize antiviral family APOBEC3 (A3) proteins of the host through viral Vif proteins. The mechanism by which Vif of human, simian or feline immunodeficiency viruses (HIV/SIV/FIV) suppresses the corresponding host A3s has been studied extensively. Results: Here, we determined that bovine immunodeficiency virus (BIV) and maedi-visna virus (MVV) Vif proteins utilize the Cullin (Cul)-ElonginB (EloB)-ElonginC (EloC) complex (BIV Vif recruits Cul2, while MVV Vif recruits Cul5) to degrade Bos taurus (bt)A3Z2-Z3 and Ovis aries (oa)A3Z2-Z3, respectively, via a proteasome-dependent but a CBF-β-independent pathway. Mutation of the BC box in BIV and MVV Vif, C-terminal hydrophilic replacement of btEloC and oaEloC and dominant-negative mutants of btCul2 and oaCul5 could disrupt the activity of BIV and MVV Vif, respectively. While the membrane-permeable zinc chelator TPEN could block BIV Vif-mediated degradation of btA3Z2-Z3, it had minimal effects on oaA3Z2-Z3 degradation induced by MVV Vif, indicating that Zn is important for the activity of BIV Vif but not MVV Vif. Furthermore, we identified a previously unreported zinc binding loop [C-x1-C-x1-H-x19-C] in the BIV Vif upstream BC box which is critical for its degradation activity. Conclusions: A novel zinc binding loop was identified in the BIV Vif protein that is important for the E3 ubiquination activity, suggesting that the degradation of btA3Z2-Z3 by BIV and that of oaA3Z2-Z3 by MVV Vif may need host factors other than CBF-β.